by Alex Cosper (1/1/13)
The music industry began to experience turbulance on many levels. There was the growing payola scandal that was investigated by Congress, there was intense downsizing and consolidation among labels. The radio industry also began a decade long financial decline. The decade opened with the Santana album Supernatural staying strong all year with lots of hits, leading to lots of awards. Nora Jones was a major breakthrough artist in 2003 with a soft authentic jazz sound, bring her many awards.
For the most part, musical experimentation was limited on the radio as a short list of big radio companies began to dominate the industry. Most of the hits of the entire decade had a manufactured sound, as marketing schemes became more obvious to the public. Part of the huge drop off in sales for the industry was online piracy and free music getting a lot of attention. Another factor was that there weren't any Led Zeppelin-calibre rock acts.
The pop music of the period was characterized by r&b-flavored artists like Destiny's Child, boy bands such as *NSYNC, female Madonna-like singers, rappers such as Eminem, adult contemporary music like Marchbox Twenty and rock songs by Creed and Nickelback. Perhaps the strongest and most memorable music of the era was the r&b music, especially Alicia Keys. Country music continued to get bigger in the new decade.
Another dimension to the manufactured sound of the early 2000s was that the TV series American Idol began to manufacture pop stars, picking up where MTV left off. One of those stars was Kelly Clarkson, who started having big pop hits in 2002.
The alternative radio format began to wither in the late nineties when it faced competiton from other similar formats, then ultimately the hits in the format dried up. The audience moved from radio to other media, especially the internet. In the early 2000s the format was dominated by Creed and Nickelback, beginning to sound too much like other formats.
The worldbeat sound flourished in the early 2000s. Shaggy had several big reggae-flavored hits such as "Angel" and "It Wasn't Me." Sean Paul also had a string of hits with the Jamaican sound such as "Gimme The Light" and "Get Busy." The electronic sound remained a strong foundation of most of the hits, especially in r&b such as r&b songs such as "Family Affair" by Mary J. Blige. Interestingly, one of the biggest dance hits of the era crossed into the rock and alternative formats, which was "Hey Ya" by Outkast.
Many music historians agree that the real star of this era was not an artist, but a device called the iPod, which revolutionized how people listened to music by putting thousands of songs in a person's pocket. The iTunes Music Store also became a big part of pop culture starting with its launch in 2003, which went along nicely with the iPod.
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